Saving Squeaky

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NEW YORK: Bernhard Goetz filed bankruptcy on Monday to prevent authorities from auctioning off his pet chinchilla and his guinea pig Squeaky. With assets of just over $2,000, Goetz will be hard pressed to pay the $43 million a jury awarded last week to Darrell Cabey, a victim of Goetz's subway shooting incident. The legal action will keep authorities from Goetz's assets until at least mid-June, when a bankruptcy trustee will reviews his debts with creditors. "It prevents a sheriff or marshal and New York State from coming in and just simply ransacking Bernie's house, having a public auction out on the street, doing anything that's basically unpredictable," said his lawyer, Darnay Hoffman. Last week, a Bronx jury awarded $43 million to Darrell Cabey, the man paralyzed and brain-damaged in the subway incident. During the civil trial, Cabey's lawyer Ron Kuby urged the jury to take what little money Goetz might have and bankrupt him to guarantee he would never enjoy life as a rich man. Goetz, a self-employed electronics specialist, grew concerned that infamy might make his property and furry familiars more valuable after watching the Jackie Onassis auction, said Hoffman. As it stands, Cabey can collect 10 percent of Goetz's earnings for the next 20 years provided he can show the bankruptcy trustee his claim is valid. The bankruptcy trustee could disagree with the jury's assessment, says Goetz's attorney, and disallow the whole award.